AMMAN, Jordan >> Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets on Thursday, state TV said, after the country’s king vowed to wage a “harsh” war against the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq.
The military confirmed the airstrikes, but did not provide details. Jordan TV, quoting military officials, reported that the strikes targeted Islamic State positions, but did not say in which country.
Jordan is part of a U.S.-led military coalition that has bombed IS targets in both countries since last fall, but until now Jordanian warplanes are only known to have carried out raids in Syria.
King Abdullah II pledged to step up the fight against the IS group after the militants burned a captive Jordanian pilot in a cage and released a video of the killing earlier this week. The images have sent waves of anger across the region.
On Thursday, warplanes roared overhead as the king paid a condolence visit to the family of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, in his village in southern Jordan. The king pointed upward, toward the planes, as he sat next to the pilot’s father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh.
Al-Kaseasbeh told the assembled mourners that the planes had returned from strikes over Raqqa, the de facto capital of the militants’ self-declared caliphate. His son had been captured near Raqqa when his F-16 fighter plane went down in December.
Earlier this week, Islamic State displayed the video of the killing of the pilot on outdoor screens in Raqqa, to chants of “God is Great” from some in the audience, according to another video posted by the militants.
Also Thursday, Jordan released an influential jihadi cleric, Abu Mohammed al-Maqdesi, who was detained in October after speaking out against Jordan’s participation in the anti-IS coalition, according to his lawyer, Moussa al-Abdallat.
Jordan’s Islamic militants are split between supporters of Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the branch of al-Qaida in Syria.
Last year, al-Maqdesi had criticized Islamic State militants for attacking fellow Muslims. However, after Jordan joined the military coalition, he called on his website for Muslim unity against a “crusader war,” a reference to coalition airstrikes.
Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Amman contributed to this report.